The ACLU of Virginia filed an amicus brief in the Loudoun County Circuit Court on behalf of ACLU Virginia, ACLU, Equality Virginia, Equality Loudoun, Side By Side, and He She Ze and We. The brief, filed on October 13, 2021, is in opposition to an emergency petition and preliminary injunction request filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf Mr. Cross and his fellow plaintiffs.
Mr. Cross is a teacher in Loudoun County and is challenging Policy 8040. This policy was adopted by the Loudoun County School Board before this lawsuit was filed and provides protections to LGBTQ+ students in Loudoun County schools. The Policy includes provisions requiring teachers to use students' gender-affirming pronouns, which is crucial to the mental health and well-being of trans and gender-expansive children. Mr. Cross spoke in opposition to Policy 8040 at a school board meeting, and refused to comply with the provision requiring teachers to use gender-affirming pronouns, arguing that this requirement violates his free speech rights. He was subsequently suspended, and he then sued to have his job reinstated. The Court ordered his reinstatement, with the Supreme Court of Virginia upholding this order. The case is now back in Loudoun County Circuit Court, with two added plaintiffs Kimberly Wright and Monica Gill, and is challenging the policy itself. Policy 8040 passed during the time Mr. Cross was challenging his suspension.
While the teachers may disagree with the policy, they do not have the right to violate it in their capacity as K-12 teachers in the Loudoun County school system. The policy protects trans and gender-expansive students from discrimination, and necessitates equal treatment of all students in Loudoun County. We know that discriminatory practices, such as the refusal to use a student's gender-affirming pronouns, can exacerbate gender dysphoria and harm socio-emotional development during critical childhood years. Policy 8040 ensures that trans and non-binary students can focus on their education without the added stigmatization, stress and anxiety of being misgendered by their teachers.